Fugitive 'con artist' was arrested thrice

Fugitive 'con artist'  was arrested thrice

Actor Leena Maria Paul’s live-in partner ‘cheated’ people in City by claiming high links, say police.

The fugitive live-in partner of actor Leena Maria Paul, who was arrested in New Delhi on Tuesday on the charge of cheating Canara Bank of Rs 19 crore, was apprehended at least thrice by Bangalore police since 2007 but managed to get bail each time.

Balaji alias Sukesh Chandrashekar, Bangalore police asserted, has a history of “cheating” hundreds of people. The Commissioner of Police, B G Jyothiprakash Mirji, said the Central Crime Branch (CCB) had been entrusted with tracking Balaji as he is suspected to be hiding in the City.

Information would be shared with law-enforcement agencies in Chennai and New Delhi, if required, Mirji told Deccan Herald. Some sources, although unconfirmed, claimed a special team from Chennai police was also looking for Balaji in Bangalore.

Balaji, who is in his early 20s, dropped out of PUC after studying at Baldwin Boys’ High School. He often “posed” as a relative or a close friend of prominent politicians. In this way, he would lure the gullible into believing that he could get their works done, for a monetary favour.

As per records with the City police, Balaji was a clever “imposter”. Once he was the “grandson” of Tamil Nadu politician M Karunanidhi; later a “close friend” of former Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy’s son Nikhil Gowda. He also posed as a close associate of Tamil Nadu’s former Finance Minister K Anbazhagan, and as an IAS officer.

First arrest

The first case booked against him in the City was in 2007 when, as a teenager, he “cheated” Subramanya, 75, a landlord, of Rs 1.14 crore, promising to get a BDA site reallotted to him. He had claimed that he was a close friend of Gowda; he even had one of his friends pose as Kumaraswamy’s son.

Police recall that Balaji had “forged” documents pertaining to the BDA to convince Subramanya that “his work was done”. The case was investigated by Hulimavu police who then arrested the teenager and his parents — Chandrashekar and Mala. The entire family was charged with operating as a gang to cheat the old man.

Balaji has a “fetish” for luxury cars and goods — seven cars, including a BMW and Nissan, were confiscated from him. He obtained bail only to revert to “cheating” people. He was then arrested in 2009 for cheating a businessman by posing as the son of former union minister T R Baalu. Police again recovered five high-end cars. He managed to get bail again, but didn’t reform himself, police claimed.

Thirteen cases

He was last arrested on April 11, 2011, near AVM Studio in Chennai when he was travelling by a car which didn’t have a number plate. That time, he was charged with cheating more than 100 men of Rs 10 crore by posing as Karunanidhi’s son. It emerged later that Balaji was involved in 13 cases in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Haryana, police recalled.

In the last incident, Balaji convinced two firms and several industrialists that he was an officer with the Government of Karnataka. He duped his gullible victims into believing that there was a project to instal some instrument in government-owned vehicles. The “tenders” for the project would be opened at Bannerghatta and Kudremukh national parks. He asked the businessmen to deposit the money into his HDFC bank account.

He even introduced himself as joint secretary to Karnataka’s chief minister before a Tamil Nadu firm, Lion Dates, saying the government had invited tenders to procure 50 lakh dates. He duped the company into depositing Rs 50,000 in his bank account.

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